She now teaches blind and visually impaired students at Kamurasi Demonstration School in Uganda’s Masindi district.
“I had a bad life,” says Rita. We have to strain to hear her: she almost whispers, and she takes her time answering questions. She pauses, before continuing: “I was born blind. My mother died when I was seven years old, I lived with my grandfather after that.
“I didn’t enjoy school, because I was suffering alone. The other children were teasing me. When you are disabled, people take you as though you are not like other people. I felt bad because I couldn’t see a way out.”
When Rita was 15, she found out her father was living nearby in Masindi. She went there, but he and her stepmother treated her badly and, as she describes it, “chased me away”.
While she’s telling us this, Rita’s eyes are cast downwards and it’s obviously hard for her to think about it. But as she continues and begins telling us about joining the Connecting the Dots programme, her whole demeanour changes and she starts to smile.
“When I started the programme, life became good. I learned how to knit, how to make something. I already knew braille before joining… so I thought at least with my braille I’ll have a chance to teach others.”
After going through the programme, Rita was given a start-up kit (like all Connecting the Dots graduates) and began earning a small amount of money from selling her knitting. But she needed to supplement her income, and she had nowhere to live. So Edith, the programme coordinator, also arranged for her to take a live-in job at Kamurasi school teaching visually impaired children.
Rita now spends the mornings teaching her students braille, then she sits in with them during mainstream lessons to make sure they keep up with their peers. When she’s not doing that, she’s making jumpers on her knitting machine, or spending time with friends.